The National Spatial Strategy

2002 - 2020

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Part 3 Your Responses

11    Legal Issues

Some of the important legal issues are mentioned below.

  • Legislation. Over 120 countries around the world are working on creating national SDIs. In some countries it has been necessary to enact legislation to underpin the creation of their SDIs whereas in others policy and specific inter-organisational arrangements have been seen to be adequate. At a European level the INSPIRE initiative has produced a draft European SDI Directive which if adopted would need to be translated into national legislation. Thus if such a Directive were to be adopted the issue of whether or not legislation should be passed would almost certainly be resolved. However the issue would then be around what specific factors would be covered in Irish SDI legislation. Another issue would be whether it is appropriate to wait until the Directive comes into effect (which could involve translation into Irish legislation after 2007) or whether legislation is necessary in the near future.
  • Privacy . Some people may consider that some types of attribute data are sensitive and should not be made available. The mechanism for dealing with these issues is through the Data Protection Act. A central issue here may be that in isolation some data may not contravene data privacy requirements but when full integration of separate databases takes place it may be possible to build up a picture of someone which would not otherwise be the case without this easy seamless integration of data.
  • Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) . Data costs money to create and maintain. In order to recoup expenditure and cover ongoing investment costs it is necessary to establish contractual agreements between producers and users. These contracts can significantly limit the widespread use of spatial data which would be available in an ISDI framework. Contracts are a mechanism for retaining ownership and securing financial return. The basic financial issues related to IPR in the ISDI context are what types of data should be available free, at marginal cost, or on a full cost recovery basis. However there may also be IPR issues related directly to the means used to protect intellectual property rights (i.e. contracts) that are of a specific legal nature. Patents, copyright and applied copyright are all issues which also needs to be addressed.
  • Data Custodian Responsibilities . If an organisation makes its data available and they contain inaccuracies this organisation may be open to claims for damages arising from these inaccurate data. Obviously it is possible to place disclaimers in relation to data but the likelihood is that the stronger the disclaimer the less inclination there is for the custodian to keep their data up to acceptable standards. Furthermore, there is the problem that less use will be made of such heavily disclaimed data precisely because it is so heavily disclaimed.
  • Freedom of Information Act . Application of this Act raises issues such as what data may be provided and how such provision is to take place.


(1)    Do you feel that legislation will be necessary to ensure the speedy and orderly roll-out of the ISDI? Why do you hold this view?

(2)    If you regard legislation as being necessary, have you any thoughts on the kinds of issues which should be dealt with in legislation?

(3)    Have you any thoughts on the privacy issue?

(4)    Have you any ideas on appropriate legal mechanisms to protect intellectual property rights and secure legitimate income for the use of spatial data?

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